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Leaders Focused on Russia, China at G7 Summit
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Leaders Focused on Russia, China at G7 Summit

Plus: Biden administration reverses course on F-16 jets to Ukraine.

Happy Monday! We hope you enjoy this list of 17th- and 18th-century Quaker names—compiled by a history PhD student as she wrote her thesis—as much as we did.

Discipline Mathews? Obedience Waring? Harvest Prude? Patience Rawbone? They don’t name ‘em like they used to.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • President Joe Biden on Friday signaled openness to allowing Ukrainian pilots to be trained to fly American-made F-16 fighter jets, reversing his previous opposition to such a move over concerns it risked escalating the conflict with Russia. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Saturday the United States has not yet decided whether to send Ukraine any jets directly, but some European NATO allies with F-16s have already expressed a willingness to transfer them to Ukraine—once they had the United States’ permission. Russia’s deputy foreign minister said in an interview Saturday the move “carries enormous risks” for the West, but that Russia has “all the necessary means” to achieve its military goals.
  • After months of grueling battle, Russian forces over the weekend claimed to have taken full control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky disputed those claims at the G7 Summit on Sunday—he said the Russian Federation didn’t control Bakhmut “​​as of today” while conceding the city has been largely “destroyed”—but Ukrainian Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskiy seemed to confirm the city is now largely under Russian control. If true, the capture of Bakhmut—far more important symbolically than strategically—would represent Russia’s first meaningful victory in the war since last summer, and it would have come at the cost of thousands of Russian lives. 
  • An April 2022 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court document was unsealed on Friday, revealing the FBI misused Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) nearly 300,000 times to surveil crime victims, January 6 rioters, summer 2020 rioters, and 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate. The FBI said it’s already fixed the issues that led to the breaches—the Washington Post reported it blamed the lapses on a “misunderstanding between its employees and Justice Department lawyers”—but the revelation is likely to weigh on lawmakers’ minds when it comes time to reauthorize Section 702 later this year.
  • Nebraska’s state legislature voted 33-15 on Friday to pass LB 574, a bill outlawing abortions after 12 weeks of gestation—with exceptions for rape, incest, or medical emergencies—and prohibiting doctors from performing gender-altering procedures on patients under the age of 19. The state’s Republican Gov. Jim Pillen is expected to sign the legislation into law later today.
  • Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina officially filed paperwork to run for president on Friday, and is expected to launch his campaign in North Charleston today before heading to Iowa and New Hampshire. Scott will enter the race with about $22 million in cash on hand, and his campaign has purchased nearly $6 million worth of advertising in early nominating states. Scott’s bid has already been endorsed by Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Republican Sen. John Thune—also from South Dakota—is reportedly set to endorse Scott today.
  • Mark Walker—a former Republican congressman from North Carolina—officially launched his gubernatorial campaign on Saturday, joining the state’s current Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Treasurer Dale Folwell in the GOP primary. Walker recently told Politico that, although he concedes Robinson is the frontrunner in the race, he feels called to run because he believes Robinson wouldn’t be able to win a general election.
  • American golfer Brooks Koepka shot three under par at Oak Hill Country Club on Sunday to win the PGA Championship—his fifth major title, and the first major title won by a player in the Saudi Arabian LIV Golf League.
  • Jim Brown, the Hall of Fame running back for the Cleveland Browns, died on Thursday at the age of 87. On Friday, British novelist Martin Amis passed away after a battle with esophageal cancer. He was 73.

A Sidetracked G7 Summit

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arriving for the family photo at the G7 Summit on May 19, 2023. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - Pool/Getty Images)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arriving for the family photo at the G7 Summit on May 19, 2023. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - Pool/Getty Images)

Remember long, long ago (Thursday) when we wondered whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s push to receive American-made F-16 fighter jets would win out over the Biden administration’s reluctance?

Wonder no more: At this weekend’s G7 summit in Japan—attended by officials from the titular wealthy democracies plus a selection of guests, including Zelensky—the United States signaled its openness to providing Ukraine with F-16s and the training to use them. The headline-grabbing news summed up a summit in which leaders tried to focus on countering the threat of China and working together on nuclear disarmament, climate change, and AI—but kept circling back to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.

The F-16 announcement included few details—leaders haven’t yet decided who’ll send the planes to Ukraine, when they’ll send them, or how many they’ll send. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and other officials framed the planes as inessential for the next phase of the conflict—Ukraine’s expected spring and summer counteroffensive—and instead part of the longer-term effort to secure Ukraine’s borders against Russia’s aggression. In the meantime, countries that had already pledged to train Ukrainians on the planes can do so confident of U.S. approval.

The White House hasn’t forgotten its anxieties about the war escalating, though, and President Biden said Ukraine has pledged not to use the jets to strike Russian territory. “I have a flat assurance from Zelensky that they will not use it to go on and move into Russian geographic territory,” Biden said Sunday. “But wherever Russian troops are within Ukraine in the area, they would be able to do that.”

In addition to the news of F-16s, the G7 summit produced a statement reiterating condemnation of Russia’s invasion and promising extra support for Ukraine—plus a new round of sanctions on Moscow and its supporters. The U.S. alone announced more than 300 new measures intended to tighten the screws on sanctions evaders and added about 70 entities to the Commerce Department blacklist, blocking them from receiving U.S. exports. “We will starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment, and services that support its war machine,” the coalition said in a statement

Russia—a member of what was then the G8 before it was booted over its 2014 annexation of Crimea—snarled at the new sanctions and repeated criticisms. “The task was set loudly and openly,” said Sergei Lavrov, foreign affairs minister. “To defeat Russia on the battlefield, but not to stop there, but to eliminate it as a geopolitical competitor.” After the F-16 news, Russian deputy defense minister Alexander Grushko accused the West of pursuing “an escalation scenario, which carries enormous risks for them.”

Russia’s war bled into a number of other topics that came up over the weekend. G7 leaders discussed nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, for example, visiting a Hiroshima peace park memorializing those killed by the United States’ atomic bomb and issuing public statements calling for Iran and North Korea to cease work on nuclear weapons. But Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling over the past year has highlighted why the U.S. is a long way from pledging to ditch its arsenal. Exigencies of war also softened the G7’s climate commitments: A recent G7 communique declared fossil fuel subsidies “inconsistent” with the Paris Agreement on climate change, but the latest round acknowledged countries dumping Russian energy might need to invest in gas—at least temporarily.

Despite the focus on Russia, G7 leaders did manage to make time to talk China. The official joint statements attempted nuance, making clear the partner countries don’t want to “harm” China or thwart its economic development. “We are not decoupling or turning inwards,” the G7 leaders said. “At the same time, we recognize that economic resilience requires de-risking and diversifying.” The leaders pledged to cooperate with China on topics including climate change and managing developing countries’ debt burdens while also “counter[ing] malign practices” like intellectual property theft and “economic coercion.”

Many of the economic initiatives highlighted or unveiled at the summit weren’t very subtle in their objectives. The G7 leaders reiterated their intent, for example, to gather up to $600 billion by 2027 to fund global infrastructure development—offering an alternative to China’s “Belt and Road” initiative. Already planned projects include $900 million in financing from the U.S.’s Export-Import Bank for solar projects in Angola and a potential $250 million financing package for a railway expansion to connect the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia to Angola and its port access. To keep such investments coming, the U.S. hopes to launch an annual Investor Forum to match investors with opportunities and plans for reducing investment risks.

Like Russia, China didn’t take kindly to this pushback. The Chinese Embassy in Washington borrowed America’s phrase to warn the G7 against “economic coercion,” and the Chinese Embassy in Japan scoffed at the G7’s economic heft. “It is important to remind the G7 that the days when a few Western countries colluded to manipulate the world are over,” the Embassy said in a statement. But Chinese officials have provided ample evidence of the risks G7 nations highlighted. Consultants at firms in China with foreign ties have recently been arrested, and China underlined concerns about its threatening displays of military strength by sending a flotilla of warships on a 12-day trip around Japan’s main islands ahead of the summit.

But just as Russia’s aggression pulled focus from efforts to counter China, so did America’s chaotic domestic politics. Instead of visiting Papua New Guinea—the nation had declared a national holiday for what would have been an American president’s first visit to an independent Pacific Islands nation—Biden went home early to handle debt ceiling negotiations, sending Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his stead. A meeting of the Quad—Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S.—was also hastily rescheduled to the G7 sidelines instead of being held in Sydney as planned. 

Even at a G7 press conference, Biden kicked off with debt ceiling comments. “Before turning to the important work we accomplished here at the G7,” he said, “I want to take a few minutes addressing the budget negotiations that I’m heading back home to deal with.”

Worth Your Time

  • In the Wall Street Journal, James Areddy writes about Rep. Mike Gallagher’s efforts to pressure American businesses into halting their investment in—and trade with—China. “In recent months, he has charged that Apple’s supply chain is dangerously exposed to China, that Walt Disney has undermined U.S. values by editing films to appease Beijing’s censors and, as some activists allege, that Nike may have used cotton produced with forced labor,” Areddy notes. “Having never set foot in China or even much focused on it until recent years, Gallagher says he isn’t an expert. He says a sober assessment of the evidence demonstrates that decades of U.S. investment and diplomacy with Beijing failed to create a viable working relationship and instead enabled what he regards as America’s greatest adversary. ‘Yes, a lot of people have been able to make a lot of money but things have gotten much worse geopolitically for America,’ Gallagher says.”
  • There were several wonderful tributes to pastor and theologian Tim Keller this weekend—including this one from his biographer, Collin Hansen, for Christianity Today—but make sure to read the remembrance from Daniel Darling we published on Saturday. “As both the church and his national profile grew exponentially, Keller modeled a vision of cultural engagement that didn’t flinch from difficult questions,” Darling writes. “In 2017 Princeton University awarded him a prestigious prize named for Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper. But the once proudly Christian institution rescinded the award after intrepid critics discovered, to their chagrin, that Keller, like Kuyper, took the Bible’s teachings on sexuality seriously. Yet the New York pastor was also known for his warmth and gentleness, even toward those with whom he disagreed. When Princeton withdrew his prize, Keller went and delivered lectures associated with the award anyway, a magnanimous gesture that belied his generous spirit. In the last few years, a few Christian critics targeted him for being ‘too winsome’ and capitulating to cultural mores—a critique that sounds strange to those who actually read him. What made Keller unique is his unusual blend: the heart of an evangelist, the approach of an apologist, the commitment of a pastor, and the precision of a theologian. In an era marked by celebrity culture and numerous church scandals, Keller was known for personal integrity, a hero you could meet and not be disappointed in.”

Presented Without Comment 

CNN: NAACP Issues Travel Advisory for Florida, Saying the State is ‘Openly Hostile Toward African Americans’ Under Gov. DeSantis’ Administration

Also Presented Without Comment 

New York Times: 30 Tons of Explosive Chemicals Lost During Rail Shipment

Also Also Presented Without Comment 

NBC News: Australian Police Taser a 95-Year-Old Woman With Dementia

“Clare Nowland was approaching officers at a ‘slow pace’ carrying a steak knife when she was taken down, said Peter Cotter, the assistant commissioner of New South Wales Police.”

Toeing the Company Line

  • In the newsletters: Chris takes another look (🔒) at Democrats’ midterms overperformance, and Nick dives into (🔒) the treacherous politics of DeSantis versus Disney.
  • On the site over the weekend: Samuel Gregg reviewed Michael Lind’s new book on stagnating wages, and Luis shared his thoughts on the movie BlackBerry
  • On the site today: Harvest walks through the Biden administration’s post-Title 42 immigration plan, and Chris reflects on the legacy of Tim Keller and the role of faith in his own work.

Let Us Know

What are your thoughts on Sen. Tim Scott as he plans to jump into the presidential race?

Declan Garvey is the executive editor at the Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2019, he worked in public affairs at Hamilton Place Strategies and market research at Echelon Insights. When Declan is not assigning and editing pieces, he is probably watching a Cubs game, listening to podcasts on 3x speed, or trying a new recipe with his wife.

Esther Eaton is a former deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch.

Mary Trimble is the editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, she interned at The Dispatch, in the political archives at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), and at Voice of America, where she produced content for their French-language service to Africa. When not helping write The Morning Dispatch, she is probably watching classic movies, going on weekend road trips, or enjoying live music with friends.

Grayson Logue is the deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in political risk consulting, helping advise Fortune 50 companies. He was also an assistant editor at Providence Magazine and is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, pursuing a Master’s degree in history. When Grayson is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably working hard to reduce the number of balls he loses on the golf course.