18 APRIL 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL called it “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since WorldWar II” as Russian attacks intensified. In response, the U.S. imposed unprec- edented and extensive sanctions against Russia, including an executive order announced by President Joe Biden on March 9 banning Russian energy imports. “We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” he said in a press conference. During a visit toMoldova in early March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged America’s support to the small former Soviet republic and spoke to U.S. Embassy Chisinau staff onMarch 6. “What Russia is doing, what Vladimir Putin is doing, is not only terrible violence tomen, women, and children,” he said. “He’s doing terrible violence to the very principles that lie beneath [the interna- tional] order and are working to keep peace and security around the world. We can’t let either of those things go forward with impunity, because if we do, it opens a Pandora’s box that we will deeply, deeply regret not just in Europe but potentially around the world.” The private sector has alsomade moves to cut ties with Russia. Netflix, TikTok, Google, Apple andMicrosoft, among oth- ers, suspended services within the country in early March, and onMarch 8, The New York Times reported that McDonald’s, Starbucks and Coca-Cola had announced suspension of operations. ISIS Leader Killed in Syria T he leader of the Islamic State terror- ist group, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, set off a blast killing himself andmembers of his family on Feb. 3 as U.S. forces raided his northern Syria hideout. President Joe Biden disclosed the over- night raid by American special operations forces later that day, saying Qurayshi’s death “removed a major terrorist threat to the world.” A senior ISIS deputy was also killed in the raid, although U.S. officials did not name him. There were no U.S. casualties. A notorious militant known as the Destroyer, Qurayshi became the ISIS leader in 2019, following the death of his predecessor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (who, likewise, killed himself and three of his children by detonating his suicide vest as he fled U.S. military forces in northern Syria). It is difficult to gauge how his death will affect the group. ISIS no longer controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria as it did at the height of its power. The group has been struggling for resurgence with deadly attacks in Afghanistan and the region. New U.S. Embassy in the Pacific F oreign Service members dreaming of an assignment to the tropics, take heart: Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed in February that the State Department will open an embassy in the Solomon Islands, the largest Pacific Island nation without a U.S. mission. President Biden’s new strategy for the Indo-Pacific, released on Feb. 11, empha- sizes deepening partnerships with allies in the region “to meet urgent challenges, from competition with China to climate change to the pandemic.” The State Department said Solomon Islanders value their history of alliance with Americans on the battlefields of World War II, but that the U.S. is in danger of losing its preferential ties as China “aggressively seeks to engage” politicians and businesspeople there. The move comes after rioting rocked the nation of 700,000 in November 2021. The unrest stemmed from long- simmering regional rivalries, economic problems and concerns about the country’s increasing links with China after it switched allegiance from Taipei to Beijing three years ago. The U.S. had operated an embassy in the Solomons for five years before closing it in 1993. Since then, U.S. diplomats in nearby Papua New Guinea have been accredited to the Solomons, which has a U.S. consular agency. The State Department said it didn’t expect to build a new embassy immedi- ately but would initially lease space at a setup cost of $12.4 million. The embassy would be located in the capital, Honiara, and would start small, with just two U.S. employees and about five local staff. The Peace Corps announced in 2019 its plan to reopen an office in the Solomon Islands and have its volunteers serve there, and several U.S. agencies are establishing government positions with portfolios in the Solomons. Executive Branch Support for Unions I n a recent report, the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment says federal agencies U.S.DEPARTMENTOFSTATE Secretary Blinken announced plans to open the new embassy during a virtual meeting held on Fiji with Pacific Island leaders.