Turkey defies its allies. The unboxing of Turkey’s first shipment of the Russian S-400 air defense system is taking place live on Turkish television, and a second delivery is not far behind. The U.S. Defense Department is due to give a briefing later today on the news, and sanctions may not be far behind. Russian security experts have said delivery of all the S-400’s parts could take up to four to five months, but a report from Haberturk newspaper indicates that Turkey may have plans to use its new weapon much sooner. According to the report, Ankara will complete installation of the system on its southeastern border in the town of Suruc in four to six weeks, likely to coincide with a major military operation in northeast Syria. The author said that there has been a buildup of armor, with ground troops soon to follow, and that troops in Turkey’s east and southeast have had their reassignments and holidays suspended for three months. Turkey has made its move. The question is how the U.S. will respond.

Russia and the Korean Peninsula. Russia appears to be trying to enhance its position on the Korean Peninsula by capitalizing on a trade spat between South Korea and Japan. Korean officials are discussing the dispute today in Washington, which has offered to mediate. Russia, however, is offering more than just words: It’s offering hydrogen fluoride, and anonymous sources in the South Korean government said Seoul is already reviewing the proposal. Hydrogen fluoride is a key input material for South Korea’s semiconductor production. Japan has been one of South Korea’s major suppliers, but the latest trade measures could curb those supplies. Russia could help to mitigate South Korea’s loses.

Meanwhile, in Russia’s borderlands … Russian President Vladimir Putin and recently elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had their first meeting yesterday – a 20-minute telephone conversation initiated by Ukraine. They discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine, of course, and though no important agreements were reached, none were actually expected. (They did, however, agree to continue working at the “expert level.”) After the call, Putin met to discuss the matter with his Security Council, while Zelenskiy spoke with Moldovan Prime Minister Maia Sandu, whom he urged to stay vigilant in the face of what Zelenskiy called Russian attempts to turn Ukraine and Moldova into federations.

Honorable Mentions