Adrian Olivier,

Sunday 18 February – Sunday 25 February:

On Sunday, between 9:30 p.m. and 10:40 p.m., Iran-backed Houthi terrorists attacked the M/V Rubymar bulk carrier. The 172m-long Rubymar is flagged in Belize, its operators are from Lebanon and its registered owner is Golden Adventure Shipping, with an address in the British port of Southampton. The Rubymar was transporting over 41,000 tons of fertilizer when it was attacked. On Saturday, U.S. Central Command said the damage to the vessel had created an 18-mile (28km) oil slick. The command called it an “environmental disaster” that could get much worse if the tens of thousands of tons of fertilizer the ship was carrying were to spill into the Red Sea. The ship’s engine room and one of its holding compartments are underwater, he said. The ship is anchored but slowly taking on water. 

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced measures to improve maritime cybersecurity, including a U.S. Coast Guard directive to mandate certain digital-security requirements for deployed foreign-built cranes at strategic seaports. The administration said more than $20 billion would be invested in port security, including domestic cargo-crane production, over the next five years. The money, taken from the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in 2021, would support a U.S. subsidiary of Japanese company Mitsui to produce the cranes, which officials said would be the first time in 30 years that they would be built domestically. The U.S. military has been concerned about the cranes for years and has made efforts to skirt ports with the China-made cranes as best as possible, according to the senior U.S. military commander who oversees the military’s logistics operations. The Chinese can track the origin, destination and other data of the U.S. military’s containerized materiel to determine exactly where the military is shipping it, Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command, told the Journal last year. “We felt there was real strategic risk here,” said Anne Neuberger, U.S. deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology. “These cranes, because they are essentially moving the large-scale containers in and out of port, if they were encrypted in a criminal attack, or rented or operated by an adversary, that could have real impact on our economy’s movement of goods and our military’s movement of goods through ports.” 

On Wednesday, a U.S. official said President Joe Biden is supporting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to become the next NATO secretary general. Rutte would be an absurd chief of the defence alliance – during his term as Dutch prime minister he was responsible for cutting his country’s defence budget. Two-thirds of NATO countries are backing Rutte’s nomination to take over leadership of the military alliance in October when current chief Jens Stoltenberg’s term ends. He has been in office since 2014. Pressure is mounting to approve Rutte’s leadership bid before the NATO summit in July, which will be held in Washington to celebrate the alliance’s 75th anniversary. 

On Thursday, for the first time in a half-century, an American-built spacecraft landed on the moon. The lander, Odysseus, arrived in the south polar region of the moon. The landing site for Odysseus, built by Houston-based Intuitive Machines, was a flat area near the Malapert A crater, about 185 miles north of the moon’s south pole. The moon’s polar regions have attracted much interest in recent years because of frozen water hidden in the shadows of craters there. Intuitive Machines is one of several small companies that NASA has hired to transport instruments that will perform reconnaissance on the moon’s surface ahead of the return of NASA astronauts there, planned for later this decade. For this mission, NASA paid Intuitive Machines $118 million under a program known as Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, to deliver six instruments to the moon, including a stereo camera that aimed to capture the billowing of dust kicked up by Odysseus as it approached the surface and a radio receiver to measure the effects of charged particles on radio signals. There was also cargo from other customers, like a camera built by students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and an art project by Jeff Koons. Parts of the spacecraft were wrapped in reflective material made by Columbia Sportswear. 

On Saturday, former President Donald J. Trump overwhelmingly defeated Nikki Haley in her home state of South Carolina in the Republican Primary. With his victory on Saturday, Mr. Trump has swept all the early nominating contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, the U.S. Virgin Islands and South Carolina — an unprecedented achievement in a contested primary race. He heads into Super Tuesday on March 5, when a third of all delegates to the G.O.P. convention will be awarded, with “maximum velocity,” said the Republican governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, who endorsed Mr. Trump over his predecessor, Ms. Haley. Haley has vowed to remain in the race, scheduling events in the coming days in Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Utah. On Saturday night, she argued that broad swaths of the Republican primary electorate still wanted an alternative to Mr. Trump.

Saturday marked the 2 year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed during two years of war. It’s the first time Kiev has announced an official death toll of soldiers. Zelenskyy refused to give figures for the wounded and missing. “I don’t want to let Russians know how many of them are out of the war front,” he told a press conference in Kiev. According to Zelenskyy, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have suffered 500,000 casualties in the war, including 180,000 soldiers killed. That compares with a figure of 315,000 Russian troops killed or wounded given by a senior U.S. Defense Department official earlier this month. The propaganda figures Zelenskyy gives should be taken with a grain of salt, considering Ukraine is on the back foot with Western military supplies stalled. Zelenskyy pleaded with Ukraine’s allies to speed up deliveries of aid to the war-torn country. “Delays mean loss of time, and loss of time means loss of our people,” Zelenskyy said. “If we are strong, if we have weapons, we will not lose this war,” Zelenskyy said. “We will win. Because all of Putin’s steps backwards will definitely have a big impact on his society.”