Ukraine / Russia: Russian moves continue. ISW: 'Russia continues to build up and prepare its military forces for possible offensive operations against Ukraine from the Crimean Peninsula and the east. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has been warning that Russia could conduct such operations at short notice since December 11, 2018. It remains impossible to assess whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to launch an offensive or will do so, or whether the visible military preparations are intended to pressure Ukraine and its partners without escalating to additional open conflict. The data suggests that Putin is preparing to attack, although alternative interpretations are possible. One can make reasoned arguments about why it would be unwise for him to attack now (or, indeed, at all). The West should nevertheless focus first on the data itself and the risks that flow from it, rather than on reasoning about Putin’s intentions. ...'
USA / Middle East - analysis: Trump looking for exit. FDD:
... But to say, as Mr. Trump did last week, that IS has been defeated is premature. An estimated 30,000 fighters remain in Syria and Iraq. We must now expect them to revive and rebuild under the leadership of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi whom we’ve not yet tracked down and eliminated.
America’s military presence also has succeeded in preventing Iran’s rulers from establishing a land bridge through Syria into Lebanon – now effectively ruled by Hezbollah, Tehran’s proxy – and on to the Mediterranean.
Useful too: About 90 percent of Syria’s oil lies under territory controlled by the U.S. Those resources will soon replenish Mr. Assad’s coffers, reducing the amount Ayatollah Khamenei spends – an estimated $16 billion annually – to prop up the mass-murdering dictator.
That will leave more money for terrorists and missiles that can deliver nuclear warheads. ...