Morning Brief

Foreign Policy’s flagship daily newsletter with what’s coming up around the world today. Delivered weekdays.

Biden to Call for More Sanctions, More Troops in Brussels

EU, G-7, and NATO leaders gather today in Brussels to plot next steps as Ukraine’s war enters its fifth week.

U.S. President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One in Brussels.
U.S. President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One in Brussels.
U.S. President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One as he arrives at Brussels Airport on March 23, on the eve of a NATO summit about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking ahead at a day of international summits in Brussels, looking back on the life of Madeleine Albright, and more news worth following from the around the world.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Biden Joins Allies in Brussels

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking ahead at a day of international summits in Brussels, looking back on the life of Madeleine Albright, and more news worth following from the around the world.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Biden Joins Allies in Brussels

U.S. President Joe Biden is in Brussels today as he joins European Union, G-7, and NATO leaders in taking stock of the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the conflict enters its fifth week.

Biden will spend part of the afternoon gathering with G-7 leaders; he then will meet with European Council President Charles Michel before a full summit of EU leaders. He’s scheduled to finish the day with a press conference at NATO headquarters at 3 p.m. Washington time.

As the war in Ukraine grinds on, stalemate near Kyiv masks some progress by Russian forces in the south, where the port city of Mariupol is still all that stands between completing a Russian “land bridge” to Crimea. Russia did suffer an apparent naval setback in the area this morning when Ukrainian forces claimed to have destroyed the Russian landing ship Orsk in the nearby port of Berdyansk, which has been occupied by Russia since Feb. 27; photos from the harbor show a plume of black smoke and flames.

The United States raised the stakes of the conflict on Wednesday as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally declared Russia’s forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine, citing “credible reports” of deliberate attacks on civilians, including those in schools and hospitals.

More sanctions. Western powers are expected to announce further sanctions today, with hundreds of members of Russia’s State Duma—its lower house of parliament—reportedly in the crosshairs, as well as some defense companies. One Russian oligarch not likely to fall under U.S. sanctions is Roman Abramovich, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Biden to spare the soon-to-be-former Chelsea Football Club owner, citing his potential mediating role in Russia-Ukraine peace talks.

Whether the sanctions to date have changed the Kremlin’s calculus remains to be seen, Paul Stronski, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Foreign Policy. “We’re certainly seeing some pushback in the Russian elite, but it’s more elites resigning than being able to push change,” Stronski said, citing the recent resignations of longtime Putin aide Anatoly Chubais and Arkady Dvorkovich, a former deputy prime minister.

The sanctions are only as effective as the coalition implementing them, Stronski said, with China and India’s absence a key factor. “Russia is clearly alienated from the West, but it’s not necessarily alienated from the rest of the world,” Stronski said.

More leverage? Also soon to be announced, a plan to diversify Europe’s gas supply to reduce its reliance on Russian sources and begin replacing it with U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG). Speaking on Air Force One on Wednesday, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the United States was looking for ways “to increase LNG supplies—surge LNG supplies to Europe—not just over the course of years, but over the course of months as well.”

How much gas the United States has available to ship is an open question, as is how easily Europe can take on the more infrastructurally challenging LNG. There’s also the knock-on climate effects to consider, as any diversion in supplies already committed to Asia and other destinations may lead to more coal burning to make up for the shortfall.

More troops? As well as sanctions, NATO allies are expected to formally announce the deployment of additional troops to Eastern and Central Europe to shore up NATO’s eastern flank. Speaking on Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he expected leaders would agree to “strengthen NATO’s posture in all domains, with major increases to our forces in the eastern part of the alliance: on land, in the air, and at sea.”

The plan includes four new NATO battlegroups, with one each for Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said on Wednesday the stationing of troops there could become permanent, a position that is sure to irk the Kremlin, which included a pledge for NATO not to deploy troops in Eastern Europe as part of its demands during negotiations with the United States back in December.

(For more on NATO’s moves, be sure to follow FP’s national security-focused newsletter Situation Report, out later today.)

Russia counters. Even as the United States and its allies attempt to increase pressure, Russia is trying its own countermeasures. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced new rules that would force “unfriendly countries” to buy Russian gas in rubles, a ploy designed to prop up the currency’s value as sanctions bite.


What We’re Following Today

Albright dead at 84. U.S. officials continue to mourn the passing of Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as secretary of state, who died on Wednesday aged 84. In a statement released on Wednesday evening, U.S. President Joe Biden described her as “a force” whose hands “turned the tide of history.” FP’s Michael Hirsh remembers Albright as someone who “distinguished herself by her unapologetic assertion of U.S. power for the purpose of keeping the peace as well as several significant diplomatic breakthroughs,” even if her hawkish views at times got her into trouble.


Keep an Eye On

China’s plane crash. The cockpit recorder from China Eastern Flight MU5735 was recovered from the crash site on Wednesday, bringing Chinese authorities closer to learning the cause of the disaster, which appears to have claimed the lives of all 132 people on board. U.S. investigators have been invited to help with the search. Chinese officials said the pilots of the flight were experienced and showed no signs of ill health prior to the crash. China’s aviation regulator has increased the level of pilot seniority needed on future flights as a precaution.

Jamaican independence. Jamaica is set to follow Barbados in ending its relationship with the British commonwealth and pursuing full independence from the British crown. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the surprise announcement on Wednesday in front of Prince William and Kate as the couple completed a Caribbean tour beset by protests. “We are moving on,” Holness said. “We intend to … fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country.”

Colm Quinn was a staff writer at Foreign Policy between 2020 and 2022. Twitter: @colmfquinn

Join the Conversation

Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.

Already a subscriber? .

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?

Join the Conversation

Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs.

You are commenting as .

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.