US officials reported an increase in illegal weapons smuggling into Haiti and the Caribbean, amidst increasing cases of firearm-related violence in the region.
Taiwan's air force unveiled its most advanced warplane yet, the F-16V that could be equipped with missiles in a nighttime demonstration.
In her meeting with a delegation of US lawmakers, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan remains committed to a stable Taiwan Strait.
The Russian defense ministry claimed the recent blasts in northern and central Crimea were done by saboteurs as Ukrainian officials laud the strikes on its ammunition depots.
The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council said it has no authority to dissolve parliament and cannot interfere in legislative and executive decisions.
A top Russian official in the annexed Crimea region said the Russian security forces stopped a terrorist cell made up of members of an Islamist group.
House Democrats unanimously passed the Inflation Reduction Act, marking another legislative achievement under the Biden administration.
A Taiwanese air force official said the footage of Penghu Islands shown by the People's Liberation Army was exaggerated.
In a victory for activists, a high court in Hong Kong overturned a ruling by the lower court that blocked open reporting of pre-trial proceedings of a landmark national security case.
Iran's foreign ministry said it is ready to exchange prisoners with the US as it calls on Washington to release detained Iranians.
Ukraine and Russian-installed officials in occupied parts have traded accusations over the shelling near the Zaporizhzhia facility.
Former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani said the Afghan government was not included in the peace process talks between the US under the Trump administration and the Taliban.
Biden signed the $430 billion legislation tackling inflation, prescription drugs, energy, and climate change passed through party lines.
Iran's foreign ministry said Rushdie was deserving of the condemnation and no one has the right to accuse Tehran of the stabbing of the novelist.
NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was prepared to step up peacekeeping troops in the region should tensions continue between Kosovo and Serbia.
Energoatom issued a statement saying Russia-based hackers launched a three-hour cyberattack on its website.
Russia’s Ukraine invasion won’t be over soon – and Putin is counting on the West’s short attention span
As Russia’s war in Ukraine becomes a quagmire of attrition, Western leaders are slowly coming to two realisations about Vladimir Putin’s intentions.
First, Russia’s war against Ukraine won’t be over soon, and is likely to grind on for the foreseeable future.
Second, it’s pointless to try to imagine a future in which relations with Moscow are characterised by anything other by mutual mistrust and hostility.
In spite of this, there is still the chance that Russia’s invasion falls off the international radar through a Western inability to deal with hard realities.
Putin’s war of expansion
In an interview with a German newspaper, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg estimated the war could take years, rather than months.
Patrick Sanders, the incoming chief of the British Army, has claimed the UK’s armed forces need to be oriented around fighting a ground war with Russia.
And after an awkwardly frosty hug with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, even French President Emmanuel Macron, whose calls to Putin have annoyed Kyiv and who previously warned Putin must not be humiliated, has voiced his unequivocal support for Ukraine.
These epiphanies are long overdue. There’s no point in dreaming up elaborate diplomatic “off ramps” for Putin when it’s abundantly clear he sees no need for them.
Doing so also denies Ukraine agency in determining how the war ends, and presupposes a post-conflict European security order can meet both Russian and Western requirements. As witnessed prior to Russia’s invasion on February 24, the Kremlin isn’t content with anything short of regaining something close to the geo-strategic footprint of the USSR.
Obsessed with territorial aggrandisement, and having cynically cultivated a fetish for militarism in Russian society, Vladimir Putin recently admitted as much when he compared himself to Peter the Great, noting “now it’s our turn to get our lands back”.
At the very least, Putin’s words should put to bed the vastly overstated claim that the enlargement of Western security structures somehow forced Putin to invade Ukraine. This is clearly a war of Russian expansion, not NATO expansion.
Yet some Western security policymakers and commentators remain incapable of letting go of victor’s guilt over how the fledgling Russian state was treated following the USSR’s collapse.
While such sentiments are to an extent defensible, the West’s strategic failings nonetheless pale in comparison to Putin’s long history of internal repression, political warfare against external foes, nuclear threats, and brutality against those whose continued independence irk him.
Putin waiting the West out
Another reason the West should avoid the temptation of hand-wringing is because now is the most dangerous time in Ukraine’s efforts to repel the Russian invasion.
By its own estimation, Ukraine’s forces are outgunned ten-to-one by Russian artillery in the Donbas region. However, Ukraine has no option but to keep fighting, both for national survival and because suing for peace now – given what we know about the barbarism inflicted on Ukrainians by Russian invaders – would mean a swift end for Zelenskyy’s government.
Having initially failed to capture Kyiv in a poorly conceived and executed dash for the capital, Russian forces have adopted their typical approach to offensive operations – massive unguided fires in both urban and rural environments. That curtain of bombardment allows its military to advance, albeit painfully slowly.
This suits Putin just fine, at least for the moment. He has no incentive to go to the negotiating table since the limited territory he has seized from Ukraine so far cannot be spun as a great victory either at home or abroad.
His military calculus is simple: to continue capturing territory and destroy as much of Ukraine’s infrastructure as possible.
It also dovetails with his strategic calculus, which is to simply wait the West out. Previously – in Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea – he has correctly anticipated that Western tolerance for protracted confrontation is low, and it can be counted on to de-escalate.
Will the invasion fall off the radar?
Yet although Western elites are gloomily coming to the understanding Putin cannot somehow be managed, there remains a significant danger the conflict falls off the international radar, or that Western leaders waver as the conflict drags on.
We can already see some of this happening: in the tendency of the Western media to grasp at straws over Putin’s reputed ill-health, and in Germany’s egregious vacillation over allowing heavy weapons destined for Ukraine to transit its territory.
For his part, Zelenskyy is acutely aware of this. It’s why he has maintained the pressure on European nations to match words with deeds.
It’s also why he now expects something in return for the popularity sugar hit European leaders get from photo opportunities after taking the increasingly well-worn path to Kyiv to meet him.
3 reasons to meet Ukraine’s military requests
Meeting Ukraine’s requests for heavy weapons and ammunition is in the interests of NATO members for three reasons.
It’s critical to show Putin that escalation comes with real costs: something Western leaders have shied away from for decades.
It’s increasingly likely neither Ukraine nor Russia will be happy with any eventual settlement to the war, and a “frozen” conflict leaves Russia the chance to try again in future. Ukraine’s armed forces have performed far above expectations in denying the Kremlin the chance to “win”, at least in terms of its original ambitions. But although Kyiv’s desire to recapture all its lost territory – including Crimea – is unsurprising, there’s no realistic prospect of that without military assistance far beyond its requests.
A third reason for the West to meet Ukrainian hardware needs concerns the credibility of NATO’s and the EU’s assertions they protect international order and shared values. No matter how the war ends, a profoundly damaged Ukraine will take decades to rebuild.
And while it’s currently fashionable for Western leaders to proclaim how much they are doing to help, the reality is they’re safely watching Ukraine fight a major power.
With that track record, it would be completely understandable for those in other nations that might need Western security assistance in future to have little confidence in obtaining much more beyond noble sentiments, and bare minimum support.