Today's D Brief: Greek PM at the WH; Turkey's top diplomat to DC; Global food shortages; White supremacist kills 10 in Buffalo; And a bit more.
Turkey says it won’t delay Sweden and Finland’s requests to join NATO after a Friday of contrary messaging from Turkish President Recep Erdogan in Ankara. NATO foreign ministers met over the weekend in Berlin, and they seem to have at least temporarily satisfied alleged Nordic concerns from Turkish officials; those concerns at least partly involved Erdogan’s frustration with officials in Greece, which is engaged in a row over oil drilling in the Mediterranean with Erdogan and officials in Ankara.
Greece’s new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is visiting the White House today. And the Greek parliament just approved a new five-year defense pact with the U.S. right before Mitsotakis arrived stateside. That pact expands the U.S. troop presence to four more locations across Greece, “including two army camps in central and northern Greece and a naval base on the island of Crete,” Reuters reported late last week. Mitsotakis plans to address Congress on Tuesday.
Turkey’s top diplomat is visiting Washington on Tuesday. The White House on Sunday asked Congress to approve a sale of F-16 upgrades for Turkey, which is looking to buy 40 of the aircraft in the coming months, according to Voice of America.
One big reason all this Turkey-Greece-U.S. chatter matters: “Greece plans to finish building a pipeline to Bulgaria that will end Russia’s gas monopoly there and for the rest of southeast Europe,” VOA reports. That “lucrative” pipeline, known as the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria, or IGB, “could soon become a key conduit supplanting Russian gas throughout the Balkans, with liquefied natural gas, known as LNG, from the U.S., Qatar, Egypt and elsewhere.”
And Sweden just made it official: Stockholm is joining Helsinki in requesting NATO membership, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced in the Swedish parliament on Monday. “Sweden needs formal security guarantees that come with membership in NATO,” she said, and added, “We will inform NATO that we want to become a member of the alliance.” The Associated Press has more.
The view from Capitol Hill leaders: The U.S. could ratify the Nordic nations’ bids to join the alliance before August recess, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Monday in Helsinki. Reuters has more.
Coverage continues below the fold…
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Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1812, the six-year Russo-Turkish war was hastened to an end with the Russian military’s signing of the Treaty of Bucharest. The agreement allowed Moscow’s troops to shift their focus to the approaching forces of French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte, who ordered a Russian invasion just one month later.
New: McDonald’s is pulling out of Russia after more than three decades of business. The decision will affect more than 800 stores, which will all have to “de-Arch” the decor; and it translates to an estimated write-off of at least $1.2 billion, the company said in a statement Monday.
“It is impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine,” said CEO Chris Kempczinski in a recent note to franchises obtained by the New York Times. “And it is impossible to imagine the Golden Arches representing the same hope and promise that led us to enter the Russian market 32 years ago.” An unspecified local buyer is expected to acquire the affected facilities, according to McDonald’s. More from their public relations team, here.
French carmaker Renault is somewhat dramatically divesting from Russia by selling its nearly 70% “stake in Russia’s biggest automaker to a state-backed entity for one ruble and a six-year option to buy back its shares,” the Wall Street Journal reported Monday from Paris.
Russia’s Ukraine invasion is “leading to steep price rises in commodity markets and the threats we are now seeing to global food security,” G7 foreign ministers said in a joint statement Saturday calling for an immediate halt on strikes against Ukraine’s infrastructure. “As global markets suffer from Russia’s war of choice by rising food and commodity prices,” they said, “we are determined to contribute additional resources to and support all relevant efforts that aim to ensure availability and accessibility of food, energy and financial resources as well as basic commodities for all.” They also condemned “Russia’s policy of information manipulation and interference,” which “deliberately aims at manipulating public opinions domestically and worldwide” in support of Putin’s invasion.
“We will pursue our ongoing military and defense assistance to Ukraine as long as necessary,” the ministers warned in their joint statement. Read the rest, here.
ICYMI: Germany’s chancellor rang up Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Friday. According to Berlin’s Olaf Scholz, the two men spoke for a “long” time and discussed—firstly—how “there must be a ceasefire in Ukraine as quickly as possible,” according to Scholz; and the chancellor says he told Putin “The claim that Nazis are in power [in Ukraine] is false,” and Scholz says he “also reminded him about Russia’s responsibility for the global food situation.”
- “In Ukraine and internationally, scenario darkens for Russia,” via the Associated Press, reporting Monday from Kyiv;
- “Ukrainian Refugees Are Heading Home in Droves,” via the Wall Street Journal, reporting Monday from Poland;
- “Russia-driven food shortage means cereal and corn will start running out in 2023, UN warns,” via Fortune, reporting Friday;
- “India bans most wheat exports, adding to concerns of global food insecurity,” the New York Times reported Saturday;
- And “Russian rouble hovers near 5-year highs vs euro, stocks up,” via Reuters, reporting Monday amid “artificial support from capital controls that Russia imposed to shield its financial sector.”
A White supremacist killed 10 in a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, CNN reports, after posting a manifesto espousing the racist “replacement theory” pushed most prominently by Fox commentator Tucker Carlson. “Once confined to the right-wing, white nationalist fringe,” the Washington Post wrote days before the Buffalo attack, the idea “is not simply that immigration to the United States could reshape American politics but that some cadre of elites is intentionally encouraging that to happen. That there was a sinister plan to literally ‘replace’ native-born Americans with immigrants.”
ICYMI: A recent Reuters investigation found that a “significant number of U.S. police instructors have ties to a constellation of armed right-wing militias and white supremacist hate groups, a report that adds to a fast-growing body of evidence showing a deadly threat inside U.S. police departments.” Read that, here.
A bear attacked two soldiers last week in Alaska, and killed one of them, the U.S. Army announced Thursday. The attack happened Tuesday on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson while soldiers were conducting land navigation training.
Thirty-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant perished in the apparent brown bear attack, which officials said occurred near a den with two small baby cubs. The New York Times has more, here. WUMR has still more on Staff Sgt. Plant, here.
And lastly today: Watch as two teams at a D.C. think tank wargame scenarios of conflict with China. It comes to us via NBC News’s 27-minute-long “Meet the Press Reports” special feature. You’ll meet a vast array of wonks from the Center for a New American Security, including friends of the podcast Stacie Pettyjohn and Becca Wasser.