FDD's Overnight Brief April 25th, 2022

 


 
FDD's Overnight Brief

April 25, 2022

FDD Research and Analysis

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Russia

The U.S. will return an embassy presence to Ukraine and increase military support for the country, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a meeting in Kyiv, as Russia’s war shifts gears in eastern and southern Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

The far-right party of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has begun paying a settlement of 12 million euros—equivalent to $12.94 million—to a Russian military contractor under U.S. sanctions, part of a debt restructuring that granted her party more time to repay a loan it took from a Russian bank, according to Russian and French government records. – Wall Street Journal 

During lulls in the Russian shelling that has turned much of northern Kharkiv into a landscape of eviscerated high-rises, shrapnel-littered streets and burned-out cars, Tatyana Yevtukhova left her building’s basement to light a fire in what used to be a playground. – Wall Street Journal 

Some 8,000 luxury cars destined for Russia are parked at the Port of Zeebrugge in Belgium as authorities there try to navigate a maze of sanctions slapped on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

This year, with the world reeling from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Thai soldiers hosted American troops for Cobra Gold, annual military exercises that are one of the largest shows of force in the Asia Pacific. A few months before, they participated in Shared Destiny, peacekeeping drills run by the People’s Liberation Army of China. And in 2020, the Thais hedged their bets further, signing an agreement for their cadets to receive training at a defense academy in Moscow. – New York Times 

Top American officials promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hundreds of millions of dollars in new aid during the highest-level U.S. visit to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion two months earlier, while Britain said Monday that Moscow has yet to achieve a significant breakthrough in its offensive in the eastern industrial heartland of the country. – Associated Press 

Nearly two months into the Russian-Ukraine war, the Kremlin has taken extraordinary steps to blunt an economic counteroffensive from the West. While Russia can claim some symbolic victories, the full impact of Western sanctions is starting to be felt in very real ways. – Associated Press 

Russia’s top state investigative body said on Saturday it was looking into a Russian media report alleging that sabotage experts from Britain’s SAS special forces have been deployed to western Ukraine. – Reuters 

Russia said on Saturday it plans to deploy its newly tested Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of mounting nuclear strikes against the United States, by autumn. – Reuters 

Russia’s justice ministry on Friday added opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza to a list of “foreign agents”, which means he is subject to stringent financial reporting requirements and must preface anything he publishes with a disclaimer. – Reuters 

NATO must avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia that could lead to a third world war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with Der Spiegel when asked about Germany’s failure to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine. – Reuters 

A new report claims that France and Germany sold nearly $295 million worth of military hardware to Moscow, including missiles, bombs, and guns that are likely being used in Ukraine. – New York Sun 

Ukraine has repelled numerous Russian attacks in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine that borders Russia , according to British military intelligence. – The Hill 

A Russian missile strike on Sunday killed eight people in Odesa, including a three-month-old baby girl, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. – The Hill 

A Russian commander claimed on Friday that Moscow now wants “full control” of southern Ukraine in addition to the Donbas region in the east. – Washington Examiner 

Ukrainian officials say they have identified mass graves outside the city of Mariupol, which they say adds to mounting proof of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians. – CNN 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has devoted considerable airtime over the past few weeks to reassuring the Russian public that sanctions hurt the West more than they hurt Russia. – CNN

A journalist and vocal critic of the Kremlin is now the subject of a criminal investigation for spreading information about Russia’s war in Ukraine, which the government claims is fake – Washington Examiner 

The Pentagon expects the war in Ukraine to be “prolonged,” spokesman John Kirby stated during Friday’s briefing. Kirby’s comments come as the Russians’ invasion in Ukraine stretches into its eighth week. – Washington Examiner 

An evacuation set to escort Ukrainian civilians out of Mariupol was disrupted when the Russian military instead took them into “occupied territory” on Saturday, a Ukrainian leader said. – Washington Examiner 

Russian leaders have issued warnings accusing the United States and Ukraine of preparing to initiate false flag attacks against the Kremlin’s military. – Washington Examiner 

Vladimir Putin has lost interest in diplomatic efforts to end his war with Ukraine and instead appears set on seizing as much territory as possible, according to three people briefed on conversations with the Russian president. – Financial Times 

Despite predictions of doom for the heavily sanctioned Russian economy, nearly two months into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, his country’s oil exports to Europe and nations such as India and Turkey have actually risen, and its financial sector is so far avoiding a serious liquidity crisis. – Foreign Policy 

Editorial: Ukraine has paid dearly to protect its homeland in a war it didn’t choose. The West’s interest is in a Ukrainian victory that pushes Russia out and lets its people decide their own destiny. Russia without Ukraine is a much less significant threat to NATO and the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

Ross Douthat writes: The situation in Ukraine is its own distinctive case. It is very unlikely that Putin will fall from power; it would be insane for us to try to force regime change. At the same time, there is a military on the ground that’s proven capable of countering him, with international support but without direct U.S. intervention. And this good news, however provisional, seems like what our president should be stressing — the real situation, not the escalatory hypothetical. – New York Times 

Ilya Yablokov writes: From battles of words on talk shows and online, conspiracy theories have effectively turned into a weapon that kills real people. That’s scary enough. But the most frightening thing is that Mr. Putin, waging war without restraint, seems to believe them. – New York Times 

Mark R. Whittington writes: Russia lost the moon race in 1969 because it lacked the wherewithal to win. It is losing the moon in 2022 because of horrible decisions made by Putin. Russia will be a generation recovering from the blunder if it does so at all. – The Hill 

Rebekah Koffler writes: Now finding himself cornered in an unwinnable position, Putin is invoking the concepts of “total war” and an “existential threat” to keep the US and NATO out of the conflict. Meanwhile, the May 9 anniversary of Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany approaches, a date that is driving Putin to launch an even greater offensive to declare victory in Ukraine. All the while, he knows that Russia’s Dead Hand is what scares the West more than anything. – New York Post 

Jonah Goldberg writes: None of this is to say we should send our own troops into Ukraine — not that we wouldn’t be morally justified. Igniting a direct war between two nuclear superpowers is a bad idea. Besides, Ukraine isn’t asking for that. It is asking for the modern equivalent of the arsenal of democracy, and we should give it to them, fast. Because Putin is now doubling down on his crimes in eastern Ukraine just to save face. It’s not in our interest that he succeed. And, as the bad guy, he deserves to lose. – New York Post 

Gideon Rose writes: As the fighting grinds on, however, the war is looking more familiar and increasingly resembles many other conflicts over the last seven decades. This suggests that general, structural features of the situation are imposing themselves on the belligerents, guiding their choices into surprisingly well-worn grooves. Ukraine, in short, is following the pattern of limited war in the nuclear age, echoing a script written in Korea and copied many times since. […]And even the new phase is playing by the same old rules—with significant implications for the remainder of the war and beyond. – Foreign Affairs 

Walter Clemens writes: By the logic of Nuremberg, President Putin should be arrested if he enters the jurisdiction of any UN member and brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or special tribunal to adjudicate war crimes in Ukraine. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Jeremy Mankoff writes: Despite the unimpressive performance of its military thus far and the potentially crushing impact of the sanctions it now faces, Russia could still emerge victorious on the battlefield—but only at a very high cost. Its odds of maintaining a long-term protectorate appear to be plummeting with each day Ukraine holds out. The ultimate outcome of the conflict will depend on the West’s response and, above all, on Ukrainians’ willingness to fight for a nation Putin believes does not and should not exist. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Caleb Larson writes: Though the Marine Corps and Navy would like to focus exclusively on the threat posed by a rising China, Russia will pose a serious and credible threat for a long time yet to come. – The National Interest 

Iran

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Iran to release a U.S. citizen he said had been held for years as a “political pawn.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A fifth round of talks has been held between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iranian media reported. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran’s parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf is facing calls to resign after members of his family were reported to have gone on a recent shopping spree in Turkey. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have seized a foreign vessel in the Gulf for smuggling 200,000 litres of fuel, a senior Guards commander told the semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday. – Reuters 

Gunmen opened fire on a car carrying a senior Revolutionary Guards commander in restive southeastern Iran early on Saturday, killing a bodyguard, Iranian state media reported. – Reuters 

Tehran has raised its military budget for the first time in four years, a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found. Iran raised its military budget to $24.6 billion in 2021, an increase of 11%, the report said, despite ongoing economic problems in the country because of years of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by the United States. – Jerusalem Post 

Iran won’t back down from its assassination campaign targeting former U.S. officials over the killing of General Qasem Soleimani, a top Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander said. – National Review 

Iranian rowing Asian gold medalist Bahman Nasiri has left the national team as he emigrated to the Republic of Azerbaijan. The head of Iran’s canoeing and rowing federation, Alireza Sohrabian, said on Saturday that Nasiri wanted to be employed by the federation, but it didn’t happen, making him leave the team. – Iran International 

Michael Rubin writes: Iranians are capable of democracy; they almost achieved it in the first decade of the 20th century. It is time the White House stops throwing obstacles in their way. – Washington Examiner 

Afghanistan

A four-day blitz of terrorist bombings across Afghanistan has left the country reeling after months of relative calm, raising fears that the Taliban — which spent years fighting the Afghan state and its U.S. backers — will be unable to maintain the peace. – Washington Post 

Afghanistan’s acting defence minister said on Sunday that the Taliban administration would not tolerate “invasions” from its neighours after protesting against airstrikes it says were conducted by neighbouring Pakistan. – Reuters 

The Taliban announced on Thursday a ban on the popular video app over allegations that it was leading Afghan youth “astray.” – Washington Examiner 

Turkey

Turkey has banned Russia’s armed forces from using its airspace to reach Syria in a bid to increase pressure on Vladimir Putin as Ankara tries to revive peace talks with Ukraine. – Financial Times 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Ankara before heading to Moscow next week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and then to Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a statement said. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday he discussed with Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan the need for the immediate evacuation of civilians from the mostly Russian-occupied port city of Mariupol. – Reuters 

Israel

Israel on Sunday closed its civilian border crossing with the Gaza Strip, preventing thousands of Gazans from getting to work in Israel, in an effort to pressure Gaza’s ruler Hamas to halt rocket attacks against southern Israel. – Wall Street Journal 

Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday rejected a request to reopen an investigation into the deaths of four Palestinian children who were killed by an Israeli airstrike while playing on the beach in the Gaza Strip during a 2014 war. – Associated Press 

U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Israel in the coming months following an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Bennett’s office and the White House said on Sunday. – Reuters 

As Jerusalem saw escalating clashes last week between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police, Palestinian Authority TV aired an imam’s call for the “extermination” of Jews, an Israeli media watchdog said Sunday. – Algemeiner 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid reiterated Sunday that Israel has no intention to divide Jerusalem’s Temple Mount between religions or permit non-Muslims to pray there, as violence continued to erupt this week around the holy site. – Algemeiner 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) defended Israeli police for their recent actions to break up riots on the Temple Mount, and to remove rioters from the Al Aqsa Mosque. – Arutz Sheva 

Almost half of the Israeli public (47%) is worried that another Holocaust will befall the Jewish people, according to a poll conducted by the “Pnima” movement on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Wednesday, April 27. – Israel Hayom 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency might allow other UN agencies to help service Palestinian refugees for the first time in its 73-year history, in a move that has angered the Palestinians who fear that it’s the first step in UNRWA’s dissolution. – Jerusalem Post 

Hamas is responsible for the rocket attack launched from Gaza onto southern Israel last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

Michael Oren writes: Can Israel do more? Yes and I believe it should. Along with the helmets and flak jackets it has just approved to send to Ukraine, Israel should help strengthen its cyber defenses. The Knesset should enact laws empowering the government to officially impose sanctions. Such measures would reinforce Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity. It would also strengthen Israel’s diplomatic and moral hand as it grapples with the threat of the Biden administration renewing a nuclear deal with Iran. – Wall Street Journal 

Shmuel Lederman writes: Israel’s prospects of recovering its image among Democrats, including Jewish youth, depend to a significant extent on its ability to regain its moral stature among these audiences. Changing quite blatantly immoral positions on issues unrelated to the Palestinian matter – from selling military equipment to ruthless regimes to its refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide – might help in this task. In the long run this might prove to be more important than the most profitable collaboration with Turkey. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This doesn’t mean it’s Israel’s fault. Israeli security forces are responding. But the fact that Israel doesn’t seem to prepare better for these incidents before the onset of the holidays shows how every year the wheel is reinvented in Jerusalem. Groups like Hamas benefit from this short-sighted reaction to each incident. The question is whether the rest of Ramadan will see more clashes, or whether both sides can learn from past ones. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This is an example of how powerful lobbies of authoritarian regimes such as Ankara are able to overshadow not only history but modern-day, human-rights issues. With the conflict in Ukraine, we see once again how massacres of civilians can go unpunished and also how larger foreign-policy issues can get in the way of truly caring for human rights and historical fact. – Jerusalem Post  

Herb Keinon writes: Lone-wolf attackers on the streets? Flood the streets with police and plug holes in the security fence with soldiers. Rioting on the Temple Mount? Act swiftly and without causing fatalities to remove the rioters, and then allow the Ramadan prayers to continue. Rockets from Gaza? Respond to each rocket, if not by striking back militarily, then by removing the carrot of permits for Palestinian workers. – Jerusalem Post  

Steve Postal writes: Until the PA ceases its support for terrorism toward and defamation of Israel, the PA cannot be a productive peace partner. Only when the PA completely ends its hostility to Israel can the Palestinians hope to have durable normalization with Israel. – New York Sun 

Lebanon

The IDF fired dozens of artillery shells toward sites in southern Lebanon after a rocket was fired into northern Israel near the town of Shlomi. – Jerusalem Post 

Survivors of a doomed migrant boat blamed the Lebanese navy on Sunday for sinking it, saying a naval vessel rammed the packed ship while trying to force it back to shore. – Associated Press 

Toni Nissi writes: Those of us who labored long and hard to bring this event to fruition are bracing for a response by those in the country who do not place the interests of the Lebanese people first. We feel emboldened, however, by the expressions of support we have received from both sides of the aisle in the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Hezbollah also slammed the US and Saudi embassies in Lebanon for “their interference in the Lebanese elections.” As such, its goal now is to increase tensions with Israel and then to use this to increase its role in the elections. Hezbollah wants to portray opposition to it in Lebanon as tools of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US. – Jerusalem Post 

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi princes have sold more than $600 million worth of real estate, yachts and artwork in the U.S. and Europe since the kingdom’s de facto ruler tightened the purse strings of the ultrawealthy ruling family. – Wall Street Journal 

President Joe Biden intends to nominate career diplomat Michael Ratney to be U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the White House said on Friday, amid strained relations between Washington and its traditional Gulf allies. – Reuters 

Oman facilitated the release of 14 foreigners, including a British national, who were held in Yemen and transferred them from the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital Sanaa to Muscat on Sunday, Oman’s foreign ministry said. – Reuters 

Google investors are poised to raise hackles over a controversial Saudi Arabia project at the search giant’s shareholder meeting, warning that the company risks serving up “sensitive data on a silver platter to Saudi’s top hitmen.” – New York Post 

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisia’s president seized control of the country’s election commission on Friday, saying he would replace most of its members in a move that will entrench his one-man rule and cast doubt on electoral integrity. – Reuters 

Jordan’s King Abdullah headed to Cairo on Sunday for trilateral talks with Egyptian and Emirati leaders that were not previously scheduled, the royal palace said. – Reuters 

Honeywell International (HON.O) seeks to invest about $200 million in petrochemicals and the production of green fuels for aircraft in Egypt, the Ministry of Petroleum has quoted Honeywell’s country president for Egypt as saying. – Reuters 

Editorial: It is very suspicious and must be thoroughly investigated. Egypt holds thousands of political prisoners and shows utter disregard for basic human rights while accepting more than $1 billion a year in aid from the United States. Only a fraction of the aid has been withheld because of the rights abuses. More aid should be held back until Egypt ends its systemic brutality. – Washington Post 

Daniel Byman writes: The question is not about a choice between the terrorism threat and the great power competition challenge. Rather, it is how to use the weapons America has honed and wielded for two decades more effectively, recognizing that the challenge differs and the response must change as well in this new era. – The National Interest 

Korean Peninsula

Mr. Yoon, a prosecutor who entered politics only last year, won last month’s election for Korea’s main conservative party by a razor thin margin. He takes office May 10 for a five-year term at a time of significant friction between Washington, a longtime military ally, and Beijing, the country’s largest trading partner. He will need to navigate the security fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and contend with a North Korea that has embarked on a new round of weapons tests. – Wall Street Journal 

There’s a saying in South Korea that “you only see what you know,” which has particular resonance for defectors from North Korea who have moved from one of the most isolated countries on earth to one of the most connected and feel like they “know” very little. – Washington Post 

North Korea has yet to hold a military parade after showing signs of preparing for one to mark the Monday anniversary of the founding of its army, Yonhap News Agency said, delaying an event where it could showcase weapons to threaten the U.S. and its allies. – Bloomberg 

North Korean state media on Sunday trumpeted how the country has gained an “invincible power that the world cannot ignore and no one can touch” under Kim Jong Un, an apparent reference to its nuclear weapons, as Pyongyang prepares for a military holiday. – Reuters 

South Korea’s outgoing President Moon Jae-in has asked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to stay committed to inter-Korean cooperation, saying restarting dialogue was now up to the incoming government of Yoon Suk-yeol, Moon’s spokeswoman said on Friday. – Reuters 

China

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday said it was worth considering taking steps to lower U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods given the “desirable effects” such a move could have on lowering U.S. inflation, which has hit 40-year highs this year. – Reuters 

Overseas investors extended their selling of Chinese shares into April, after dumping them in the previous month, on mounting worries about the impact of prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns, growth and the fallout of the Ukraine-Russia war. – Reuters 

China’s securities watchdog is holding regular talks with U.S. regulators over audit cooperation and expects a deal soon, a Chinese regulatory official said on Thursday about a dispute that could lead to delistings of U.S.-listed Chinese firms. – Reuters 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Sunday that the current scale of espionage and cybersecurity threats from China were “unprecedented in history.” – The Hill 

Chinese president Xi Jinping implicitly criticized the United States’ approach to economic sanctions against Russia on Thursday, claiming at a high-profile international conference that he opposed “the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction.” – The National Interest 

Russia’s RBC news outlet reported earlier this week that UnionPay, China’s largest payment processing service, ended its operations in Russia over concerns that continuing to work in the country could lead it to run afoul of Western sanctions. For Russia, this cuts off a potential alternative to U.S.-based payment processors, such as Visa and Mastercard, that withdrew from the country in the early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – The National Interest 

Editorial: The secrecy is a trademark of how China’s party-state has dealt with many disasters, from train wrecks to baby food contamination. The SARS outbreak that began in 2002 was characterized by a coverup and government bungling. Supposedly, China had fixed the problems with a real-time direct infectious-disease reporting system. But in Wuhan, it failed. […]The scientists, they concluded, “seem to have been collectively silenced.” – Washington Post 

David Von Drehle writes: Contrary to Xi’s implications, no interference by a bloc of Western nations was needed to stir the desire of Ukrainians for freedom. NATO and the European Union recruit their members by offering prosperity and human rights, not mass graves and starvation. The attraction for bullied and brutalized people is obvious. If that constitutes a “Cold War mentality,” so be it. Free nations have no choice but to resist Orwellian tyrannies that call murder “peace” and oppression “security.” – Washington Post 

Steve Kelman writes: So, I suggest that in taking on authoritarianism we return to yet another retro concept from the 1950s; the “free world.” It is fascinating to me that a Chinese student friend who doesn’t like the Communist Party often uses the phrase “free world” in messages he sends me. I think this is an idea with wider resonance and appeal. We should be talking about it more. – The Hill 

Andrew Latham writes: Indeed, the changes stemming from recent developments in North Korea and China are likely to have far more transformative effects on world politics than whatever the geopolitical fallout from the Russo-Ukraine war turns out to be. Does anyone doubt this? If yes, they simply aren’t paying attention to the world beyond the eastern marches of the Europe Union. – The Hill 

South Asia

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. would expedite defense exports to India and provide expertise to help the country build its own equipment, as the West seeks to wean the South Asian nation off its reliance on Russian military hardware. – Wall Street Journal 

The International Monetary Fund said on Saturday it held “fruitful technical discussions” with Sri Lanka on its loan request, while the World Bank said it was preparing an emergency aid package for the crisis-stricken country. – Reuters 

Pakistan’s National Security Council, a body of top civil and military leaders, on Friday rejected ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s accusations that United States had conspired to topple his government through a parliamentary vote of confidence. – Reuters 

India wants to be strong friends with the “liberal world” but it needs Russia’s assistance to defend its borders, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told Bloomberg in an interview in Washington. – Reuters 

The EU is preparing to announce the creation of a new trade and technology council with India as part of efforts to deepen their relationship and respond to the rising economic power of China. – Financial Times 

Sri Lanka’s beleaguered prime minister came under increased pressure to step down on Saturday, as a cabinet minister and other senior party members backed street protests calling for resignations over a worsening economic crisis. – Agence France-Presse 

Asia

Japan is sending a vice foreign minister to the Solomon Islands on Monday amid worry over a recent security agreement that the South Pacific nation struck with China that could increase Beijing’s military influence in the region. – Associated Press 

Japan and South Korea look set to try to revive a relationship that has hit new depths in recent years, with President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol offering an olive branch to Tokyo weeks before U.S. President Joe Biden is likely to visit both countries. – Bloomberg 

A senior-level U.S. delegation met the Solomon Islands’ leader on Friday and warned that Washington would have “significant concerns and respond accordingly” to any steps to establish a permanent Chinese military presence in the Pacific island nation. – Reuters 

The Vatican and Vietnam have agreed to upgrade their relations, which have been slowly improving since a total break after the communist victory in the Vietnam War nearly half a century ago. – Reuters 

Australia’s government on Sunday defended its response to China’s courtship of nearby Solomon Islands which culminated in a security pact, ahead of a general election next month where it had hoped to highlight its national security credentials. – Reuters 

Japan’s foreign minister promised his country would bolster its military to help the United States maintain regional security during a visit on Saturday to a U.S. aircraft carrier patrolling Asian waters. – Reuters 

Japan and Russia struck a deal on Tokyo’s fishing quota to catch salmon and trout born in Russian rivers, Japan’s fisheries agency said on Saturday, despite worsening ties over the crisis in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Taiwan is developing missiles that can attack enemy air bases and bring down cruise missiles, and drones that can target their firing locations, according to a report by the military-owned body making the weapons. – Reuters 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a press conference on Saturday he is hoping Asian countries will “change their attitude” towards Ukraine as European countries have done. – The Hill 

Weifeng Zhong writes: Biden is set to host a summit next month with leaders of Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam included. Washington would be remiss not to consider bringing relations with Hanoi to the next level. – Washington Examiner 

Huong Le Thu writes: Amid deepening global divisions over the war in Ukraine and its consequences, Southeast Asia faces trying times. Not only is ASEAN a major representative of smaller- and medium-sized countries, but its members hold significant convening power in other multilateral forums this year. This spotlight will make them appreciate an understanding and subtle partner and interlocutor even more. Japan appears to be such a partner. And while Tokyo’s efforts alone, or in coordination with partners and allies, will not fix the issues that multilateral institutions face, they might prevent further fracturing. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Europe

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Sunday, an adviser to the Ukrainian president said, in the highest-level visit by U.S. officials to Ukraine since the start of the war. – Wall Street Journal 

French President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected by a wide margin, according to projections based on early ballot counts, overcoming deep divisions among voters worried about inflation, the war in Ukraine and the impact of immigration on France’s national identity. – Wall Street Journal 

Those startups, including Seattle-based BRINC Drones Inc. and Silicon Valley’s Skydio Inc., are rushing to fill a gap in Ukraine after government officials called out products supplied by Chinese company SZ DJI Technology Co., the world’s largest commercial drone maker, as a security risk for Ukraine’s military and civilians. – Wall Street Journal 

Top world financial officials gathered in Washington this past week confronted a grim picture of the growing economic costs of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the challenges they face to help pay Ukraine’s short- and long-term bills. – Wall Street Journal 

President Volodymyr Zelensky, bolstered by an influx of heavy weapons from Western nations, expressed increasing confidence on Saturday that Ukraine was prepared to defeat Russian forces in what is expected to be a long and brutal battle for control of the eastern industrial heartland. – New York Times 

On the evening of Dec. 9, 2005, 17 days after Gerhard Schröder left office as chancellor of Germany, he got a call on his cellphone. It was his friend President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. – New York Times 

Britain has proposed changes to legislation that would ban its health service from buying medical supplies made in China’s Xinjiang region, after pressure from rights groups over Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghur people. – Reuters 

Ukraine has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency for “a comprehensive list of equipment” it needs to operate nuclear power plants during the war with Russia, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on Saturday. – Reuters 

The Moldovan foreign ministry said it had summoned Moscow’s ambassador on Friday to express “deep concern” about comments by a top military commander, who suggested the country’s Russian-speaking population was being oppressed. – Reuters 

Ukraine will be victorious in its war against Russia very soon, its prime minister said on Friday, after Britain’s Boris Johnson said it remained a realistic possibility Russia could still win. – Reuters 

Eight weeks into the war, the Biden administration’s decision to dramatically ramp up delivery of artillery guns to Ukraine signals a deepening American commitment at a pivotal stage of fighting for the country’s industrial heartland. –

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